Monday March 16, 2020
What is the immune system?
The immune system is the body’s natural defense against anything potentially harmful. The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs. Each component works together as a whole to prevent infection or disease in the body. There are two types of immunity: adaptive and passive.
Adaptive (active) immunity, which develops throughout our entire lives. Adaptive immunity involves the lymphocytes (white blood cells) and develops/strengthens when we are exposed to diseases or immunized.
Passive immunity is "borrowed" from another source (such as breast milk given to a baby) and it lasts for a short time.
Did you know? Immunization introduces antigens or weakened pathogens into a person's system. These weakened pathogens do not make an individual sick, but causes the immune system to produce antibodies protecting you if the real pathogen reappears in your body later in life.
How does the immune system work?
In addition to the types of immunity, there are two parts to the immune system: innate and adaptive.
The innate immune system provides a general defense against common pathogens acting as “scavenger” or “killer” cells. These cells mostly fight against bacterial infections.
Examples of innate immunity also includes:
- Cough reflex
- Stomach acid
The adaptive immune system targets specific threats and learns/adapts to respond against viruses or bacteria the body has already come into contact with. Once immune system cells are formed to defend against a certain antigen, a few of those cells will multiply and provide "memory" for your immune system. When the same antigens (foreign substances that invade the body) are detected, these “memory” cells already know their job and work together to respond. A common example of this is chickenpox.
Did you know? Antibodies (B cells) lock onto the antigen, but they do not kill it, only mark it for death. The killing is the job of other cells (T cells), such as phagocytes.
The immune system and inflammation
Inflammation occurs when tissues are injured and the damaged cells release chemicals like histamine. These chemicals cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the damaged tissues causing swelling and redness. This helps isolate any foreign substances/injury from further contact with healthy body tissues.
How do I care for my immune system?
Skin is your immune system’s first defense!
Your skin is the largest organ of the body. It covers you from head to toe. Literally! Keeping your internal organs safe from the outside world.
- Stay out of the sun! Yes, we do get vital Vitamin D from the sun. However, if we don’t protect ourselves from prolonged sun exposure, our skin can develop deep wrinkles, liver spots, tumors and even cancer.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. I know this is obvious but Vitamin C is especially important for skin and collagen production. So, in this case, salad is your friend!
- Sleep! Give your body time to repair itself (skin included). Try to sleep 8 hours per night regularly if possible.
- Stop smoking. Smoking narrows blood vessels in the epidermis. This decreases blood flow depleting the skin of oxygen and nutrients.
The hypothalamus communicates to the adrenal glands to release stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). These hormones increase your heartbeat and send blood rushing to the areas that need it most such as your muscles and heart. This prepares your body to be able to fight or flight in the case of an emergency. When the body is constantly under fight or flight, this can weaken the immune system.
- Laugh With Your Friends. During laughter, the body produces endorphins (aka happiness hormone), dopamine, and serotonin. These are neurotransmitters that are in charge of motivation and mood. Need a good laugh? Click here!
- Develop a Positive Self-Talk Habit. Positive self-talk revolves recognizing the truth in situations and in yourself. A fundamental truth is that we all make mistakes. When negative events or mistakes happen, positive self-talk can often allow you to discover the optimism, hope, and joy in any given situation, big or small.
- Exercise. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to combat stress. Exercise lowers your body's stress hormone cortisol and releases healthy endorphins that can improve your mood naturally. Find easy ideas to get more active here
Eat Good Food!
A superfood is a food that has more nutrients (antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals) for your body when comparing calorie to calorie with another food.
Did you know? Superfoods are also referred to as “functional foods” because the term refers to the superfood’s ability to affect more target functions of the body compared to foods that aid basic survival.
- Acai berries: These small purple berries are grown in South America. Acai berries contain 19 amino acids and powerful antioxidants.
- Goji berries: This small red berry is native to Asia. Goji berries are high in vitamin C and E, along with various flavonoids.
- Dark chocolate: Research has found that dark chocolate is high in flavonoids. Flavonoids contain antioxidant properties, and support the immune system.
- Grapes: Resveratrol, the polyphenol found in the skins of grapes. Other flavonoids found in grapes is quercetin, is a natural anti-inflammatory that appears to protect against the damage caused by LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Noni Fruit: Naturally low in carbs, noni fruit contains over 165 beneficial compounds. Nitric oxide, quercetin, and rutin are among them. Noni fruit also contains 17 out of the 20 amino acids. This means, noni fruit can aid the body in maintaining blood sugar and blood pressure levels already within the normal range, as well as support immune system functions.
Even those of us who eat primarily superfoods aren’t off the hook! Industrial agriculture is also slowly draining nutrients from America’s soil, spraying toxic chemicals, and polluting our water sources, with the result that even fresh fruits and vegetables may not be as nutritious as they were when your parents were children. Noni Fruit Leather is certified organic and low heat processed for maximum potency and benefit to your body.
Only by knowing your farmer and understanding the practices they use to ensure fertile soil and low contamination can you trust that your food is really safe, sustainably grown, and maximally nutritious. We know most of you don’t live in Hawaii, which is why we publish so much information about our farm and our farming practices on our blog!